7 methods a college ministry could learn from a church service

There may be plenty of times that campus ministries learn something from their “big church” brethren. But I’m not sure college workers are often looking to the church service for ideas on enhancing the Large Group Meeting.

But why not? Plenty of churches have elements that could come in handy for your midweek “Sing ‘n Speak” session. Even some old-school, tried-and-true methods might be worth weighing.

So let’s weigh!

1. Theming. Plenty of churches have found the charm in theming for various series – on the stage, in their communications, even through preparing social media “covers” for members to use to spread the word. If your collegiate ministry offers series, it’s worth letting some students get creative as “theme captains.”

2. In their hands. For all the “churchy” feel inherent in a “bulletin,” putting something in students’ hands simply aids communication. Why not give students a way to get info visually (and be reminded of it later)?

3. On the screen. While not nearly every church does announcement videos, it seems like a pretty effective method. And I guarantee some students could get really excited (and humorous) taking the lead on this one. Plus, it’s something you can share with anyone who missed the Large Group Meeting. (Which, by the way, could help pull in those students who got on your email list but haven’t shown up in awhile…)

4. Variety. Most churches have at least a handful of “leaders” on the stage in the course of a service – perhaps a worship leader, announcement gal, preacher, possibly the worship leader again, etc. And some churches go beyond – with an “emcee,” testimony, two or three different leaders across different songs, and so on. Millennials love variety anyway – how many elements does your Large Group Meeting have?

4. Introduce. This is small, but important: When someone’s on your Large Group Meeting stage (for any reason), make sure to introduce them. Every time. In a church service, you’re likely to see the name and role of the worship leader, announcement guy, senior pastor, etc., on the screens. Even if you don’t want to do the screen thing (although you could!), you certainly can make sure to introduce yourselves. (And even if you’re talking to a room full of regulars, it gives them the impression that guests are always welcome.)

5. A little liturgy. Is there anything that happens every Large Group Meeting? A corporate statement, a common benediction, a simple prayer, a “theme song”? At my church, our pastor ends every service with, “Have a great week of worship.” Small “liturgies” like this have a way of bonding members, highlighting value-pillars, and strengthening a feeling of belonging.

6. Redo (one or two). In many churches, the worship band takes the stage again after the message, providing a song or two for reflection and/or response. And in some churches, the preacher actually takes the stage once again (usually after this time of worship or another interlude like the offering). He can then summarize the message or restate its points, provide one additional point of application or a “charge,” or otherwise “cap things off.” This can be a powerful way to end any gathering.

7. Purposeful planning. A final thing worth considering that not all college ministries attend to is… intentionality in the service plan. While this can be easy to overanalyze, there are many ways to be purposeful in the “construction” of a service – from thinking about songs that fit the message, to considering song order, to making sure the entire Large Group Meeting flows in a helpful and impactful way for the students in attendance.

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